by Saibal Dasgupta, TNN,
BEIJING: Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will have to make an important call concerning China's relationship with India as he goes about meeting Pakistani leaders in Islamabad on Saturday. Islamabad is expected to offer the proposed $1.1 billion Kohala hydro power project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to a Chinese company.
Wen will have to decide if he wants to stroke India's worries by accepting the offer, which would make infrastructure a major point of conflict involving the three countries. The Kohala project, located in Muzaffarabad district of the disputed PoK, will be discussed during Wen's visit to Islamabad, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported on Friday.
China recently sent a delegation of journalists from the State-run media to PoK, who met its prime minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan. Khan discussed several projects including a proposed 700 km long highway in the hope that Beijing would extend financial and construction support. Thanking China for the development of the region, he listed other projects in the pipeline like a tourist tunnel, cable car and helicopter services in the Neelum valley.
India has earlier expressed its unhappiness over Beijing's move to support the Kohala project in the disputed area. The latest move will cause a lot of heart burning in New Delhi, which has been disturbed by the construction of the Mangla dam in PoK by China International and Electric Co. Two other Chinese companies, China Gezhuba Water and Power Company and China machinery Export Corporation, are executing the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, which is in the vicinity of Muzaffarabad in PoK.
The Chinese foreign ministry has all along said that the country's relationship with Pakistan has nothing to do with its dealings with India. But the People's Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party of China, carried an article for a senior official saying that the two issues were indeed inter-related.
Discussing the challenges in the China-India relationship, Hu Shisheng, deputy director of the State-run Institute of South Asia Studies said: "These issues are rather tough, including the Sino-Indian border issue, the issues regarding China-India-Pakistan ties and on the Kashmir and the trans-border water issue, and the Tibet issue, etc."
It would not be possible to resolve the differences between China and India overnight, but the "leaders of the two countries will gradually amass consensus, dilute difference and ultimately find a solution," he said.
Wen Jiabao|PoK project|Kohala hydro power project|Hu Shisheng|China - India